HOME AND AWAY
THE gastronomic bar has been set high in Osaka. A gateway to Kyoto (known for its superior vegetables) and Kobe (a source of excellent wagyu beef), it has become Japan’s unofficial food capital. It’s only fitting, then, that a visit to this culinary mecca, 21/ hours from Tokyo by bullet train, should include a stay at the RitzCarlton Osaka, a luxury bolthole in the central business district that features two Michelin-starred restaurants.
With its wood-panelled walls, extensive art and antiques collection and clubby downstairs bar, the 292-room property resembles an English nobleman’s Georgian home, but without the stuffiness. My room, 2611, is a spacious oasis with a corner window that gives me a bird’s-eye view of the city. My high-school Japanese has deserted me, and I’m nervous about dining alone in this unfamiliar metropolis but no need to worry as Ritz-Carlton Osaka’s concierge team has organised a tour guide to escort me to some of the city’s gastronomic hotspots. But really, I need not leave the hotel. For the fourth consecutive year, its contemporary French restaurant La Baie, and Xiang Tao, specialising in Cantonese cuisine, have received one star each in the Michelin Guide to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara (2013 edition just out). More: ritzcarlton.com.